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Summary

The bold and boundlessly original debut novel from the Oscar-winning screenwriter of Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Synecdoche, New York.

B. Rosenberger Rosenberg, neurotic and underappreciated film critic (failed academic, filmmaker, paramour, shoe salesman who sleeps in a sock drawer), stumbles upon a hitherto unseen film by an enigmatic outsider - a film he’s convinced will change his career trajectory and rock the world of cinema to its core. His hands on what is possibly the greatest movie ever made, a three-month-long stop-motion masterpiece that took its reclusive auteur 90 years to complete, B. knows that it is his mission to show it to the rest of humanity. The only problem: the film is destroyed, leaving him the sole witness to its inadvertently ephemeral genius.

All that’s left of this work of art is a single frame from which B. must somehow attempt to recall the film that just might be the last great hope of civilisation. Thus begins a mind-boggling journey through the hilarious nightmarescape of a psyche as lushly Kafkaesque as it is atrophied by the relentless spew of Twitter. Desperate to impose order on an increasingly nonsensical existence, trapped in a self-imposed prison of aspirational victimhood and degeneratively inclusive language, B. scrambles to re-create the lost masterwork while attempting to keep pace with an ever-fracturing culture of 'likes' and arbitrary denunciations that are simultaneously his bête noire and his raison d’être.

A searing indictment of the modern world, Antkind is a richly layered meditation on art, time, memory, identity, comedy and the very nature of existence itself - the grain of truth at the heart of every joke.

©2020 Charlie Kaufman (P)2020 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic reviews

"Outstanding. Combining his films’ most urgent themes and recurring concerns in a format that supports the digressions and logic-loops he’s so famous for, Charlie Kaufman may have out-Kaufmaned himself." (The i)  

"A very strong debut novel, a long, anguished spill of a book, full of buried furies and nervy philosophical expeditions, constantly tossing off sparks of humour and imagination...at once surreal and highly readable." (LA Times)

What listeners say about Antkind: A Novel

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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Epic

If it wasn’t for the narrator I wouldn’t have finished thus book... the start held me, then a period where you wonder where it’s going, then you just have to hang on in till the finish to wonder how is this thing going to end. Accomplished!

1 person found this helpful

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Outstanding

If this book doesn’t win the Oscar for best book written by a film person then The Oscars will need to take a long hard look at itself/thonself. The narration is superb and makes this a must listen, even if you’ve read the book. Disregard the one star reviews, they’re written by people who like Starbucks and Christopher Nolan.

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Bloated and self-indulgent

I know it’s only September but this will undoubtedly scoop my award fir the worst book of 2020. It is bloated, over-long and horribly self-indulgent. It’s only redeeming feature is the terrific performance by Fred Berman. I used to really enjoy Charlie Kaufman’s screenplays but this and his awful adaptation of ‘Im Thinking of Ending Things’ (Netflix) have similar features of a bizarre solipsism devoid of any ‘sensible’ external editorial control.

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The weirdest thing

This is the weirdest book I've ever encountered. And I suffered through Danielewski's "House Of Leaves". It's filled both with gibberish and some sort of profound wisdom simultaneously. Not for everybody, probably not for me either but I found some pleasure in suffering through it, and it left me bamboozled in the end. Certainly not your typical piece of literature and if you don't find Charlie Kauffman's movies even remotely enjoyable, this book is definitely not for you. Frustrating and beautiful.

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this book is obese

Excessively fatty and morbidly self-indulgent. Some decent moments, but they require a hell of a lot of chewing to get to any tasty bits, which in the end don't feel worth it

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  • DM
  • 08-09-20

Brilliantly performed

I approached this as a comedy, first and foremost, and I wasn't disappointed on that front - it's one of the funniest books I've read (heard?) in a while. I got strange looks as I listened to it while out on my bicycle, chuckling away. Special mention goes to the narrator, Fred Berman. Sounding a little like a slightly gruffer David Sedaris, his voice and delivery is perfectly suited to the dry, absurdist humour of the book. It's one of my favourite audiobook performances ever. The story itself is wild, meandering, incomprehensible, endless, messy, stupid, clever, tiring, energising and sad; more a surreal vehicle for (often excellent) set-pieces and gags. There is a three-month-long stop-motion-animation film that must be mined from an imperfect memory using a charismatic, whistling hypnotist (initially). This film is about two (or three...or four) vintage comedy double-acts. Or is it? I don't know. There is also Donald Trump robots, shoes, digging, clowns, doppelgangers, books-within-books, films-within-books, films-within-films-within-books, time travel, twins, tiny talking donkey puppets, ants, sex with mountains, etc, etc, etc. Does it get tiresome? Yes. Especially in the last 10 hours or so. I recommend it.